A story in the Our Town section of today’s edition explains the obvious — that low ticket sales made going ahead with the dinner financially impossible. Unfortunately, it was too late to ax a listing of the dinner in the new Datebook section.
A number of people around town no doubt also were saddened by the announcement of the cancelation of a unique Tracy fundraising event that had been around for more than two decades. Apparently, there weren’t enough who wanted to buy tickets this year to make it work
My aching gut was prompted by my long association with the event. I was on the alumni club’s board back in the ’90s when idea of an asparagus and tri-tip dinner as a fundraiser for the club was developed. It seemed a natural that Tracy, on the edge of one of the principal asparagus-growing areas in the world, would be the location of a dinner featuring “gras.” Over the years, I’ve rounded up asparagus and handed out “Alumni of the Year” awards on an annual basis, and even sold some tickets.
The dinner raised a lot of money over the years for scholarships awarded annually to high school graduates.
Last year’s dinner was very successful, in part because it was held in the new cafeteria at Tracy High, and those at the dinner were promised a tour of the new buildings at the school.
But this year, ticket sales — the key ingredient for success of any fundraising dinner — never really got off the ground. Members had agreed last week that if enough tickets weren’t sold by Monday night, this year’s dinner would be canceled. And that’s exactly what happened.
In canceling the event, club members also agreed they weren’t throwing in the towel permanently. They said they would reorganize next fall to get an early start with plans for a dinner a year from now.
And at the same time, they would consider changing the name of the organization from Tracy High Alumni Club to something like Tracy High Boosters (there has to be a better option). Just too many people over the years had concluded that you must have attended Tracy High to attend. That never was the case, but the idea lived on.
To be successful, the club with a new name and re-energized spirit would need the support of Tracy High students, faculty and parents. Unfortunately, very little of that kind of backing has been forthcoming in recent years.
I’ll tell you where there has been solid support given over the years. Marc and Paul Marchini have donated and prepared all the asparagus that has been served since day one. That’s what I call dedicated support.
And other asparagus growers have donated cases of “gras” to be given as raffle prizes at the dinners.
Mike Erceg, Jim Meservy, Mike Bogetti and other volunteers prepared tri-tip steak over the years, and for me, those cooking sessions were a special part of the dinner.
Anyway, the annual asparagus and tri-tip dinner will rise again — next year. It’s too good an event with a rich history to be allowed to die. Besides, a place that serves fresh Delta asparagus in our town is hard to find.
Mike Klocke, editor of The Record in Stockton, commented in his Sunday column about the end of the Matthews family’s ownership of the Tracy Press. Mike wrote:
“Thank you for taking the leap of faith and purchasing the Tracy Press in 1943, and for being such strong journalistic and community partners for years — and generations since.”
When I emailed back to thank him for his thoughtful words, I mentioned that working at the Press wasn’t my first involvement with newspapers.
My first newspaper job was as a Stockton Record carrier boy in the mid-1940s, delivering 110 papers each afternoon (except Sunday) on Route 12, the area near Tracy High School.
As I wrote those words, visions of my carrier days crept into my brain. I’ll try to jot down some of those memories in next week’s column.
• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.